Nashville Predators: A Crash Course in Modern Hockey Analytics

(Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)
(Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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(Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)
(Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Zone Starts

It’s not always fair to compare players directly, while assuming their usage is identical. Not all skaters are created, or used, equally. Tracking zone starts allows you to understand the specific role of a player throughout a game, season, or even career. This metric is based on faceoff location, either in the defensive, neutral, or offensive zones.

Certain lines tend to be “sheltered,” or allowed to be more offensive. For the Nashville Predators, this is true of the JoFA line. Their offensive prowess is maximized by limiting the amount of defending required.

Calle Jarnkrok provides a perfect example. If Jankrok’s Corsi numbers are compared to, say, Kevin Fiala‘s, you get significantly different values. This season, at five-on-five, Jarnkrok’s CF% is 43.54%, meaning that opposing teams generate more shot attempts than the Predators while he is on the ice. Fiala’s, on the other hand, is 51.69%. So, Kevin Fiala is the better forward, right?

Not so fast! Calle Jarnkrok is a specific type of player: a defensive forward. His line’s role is to suppress an opponent’s top players, rather than score. Take a look at their numbers, including games played (GP), Corsi-for percentage (CF%), and offensive zone start percentage (OZS%).

Player GP CF% OZS%
C. Jarnkrok 25 43.54 34.80
K. Fiala 26 51.69 57.69

It’s obvious that Fiala generates proportionally more offense than Jarnkrok at five-on-five. However, Jarnkrok begins most of his shifts with a defensive-zone faceoff, which explains a major element in the discrepancy.